When asked to describe what the past year has been like for her family, Kimberly Hornsby compares it to her experience on the Unity Tour, a three-day, 250-mile bike ride.
“When you ride, it’s uphill and it’s downhill,” Hornsby said. “Some of it is easier, and some of it is harder. I think our year has been kind of like that, too.”
Monday marks one year since Hornsby’s husband, Killeen SWAT officer Robert “Bobby” Hornsby, was killed in the line of duty during a shootout at a Killeen apartment complex.
Hornsby’s death was the first police fatality in Killeen in more than 95 years. The incident shocked the community and sparked a collective outpouring of grief.
In the year that followed, Kimberly Hornsby was open and candid with the public about her family’s journey. She gave a eulogy for her husband in front of hundreds of mourners. She spoke at memorials, fundraisers and trained to ride in the Unity tour in her husband’s honor in May.
“There was a point where I told myself, ‘I’ll give this first year to Bobby,’” she said. “I kind of came to the conclusion that the year would be all about him and his sacrifice.”
That decision not only honored her husband’s memory, but helped her deal with her own grief and loss.
“It’s helped in the healing process a lot,” she said. “Just to see the amount of people that care for us and Bobby, and wanted to see us thrive past this and not let it define who we are.”
In her speeches and on social media, Hornsby often uses the phrase “choose joy,” an idea she said comes from the first few verses of the Bible’s Book of James.
“It talks about how we’re going to have trials, and that these trials produce perseverance, and in that, is joy,” she said. “It says to take joy in trials, and so we were like, ‘Alright we’re going to choose joy.’”
That motto, she said, brought her strength and comfort in difficult times.
Leading up to the first anniversary of Hornsby’s death, his family already experienced a number of difficult milestones: Father’s Day, a seven-year wedding anniversary and birthdays.
But the day itself will mark another first for Kimberly. Monday will be her first day as an education doctoral student at the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor.
“My plan that day is just to look forward to the future and the opportunities in that program ... and being thankful for that,” she said.
Contact Chris McGuinness at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7568. Follow him on Twitter at ChrismKDH.